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By JOEL COLEMAN
Charles Morton possesses all the tools needed to be a successful baseball player.
The recently graduated Eupora standout and Starkville Daily News All-Area Baseball Player of the year boasts plenty of speed and athleticism. He hits for average and for power.
Perhaps most importantly, he gives his team the one thing every baseball coach yearns for.
"He stayed consistent all year and that's the key about what he did," said Eupora head coach Lee Berryhill. "If you can perform consistently day in and day out, that's what you look for."
In a sport where even the best players fail around 70 percent of the time, Morton was indeed an exception.
He put up an incredible .478 batting average. He blasted seven home runs.
In doing so, Morton was named first-team All-State in Class 2A and earned himself the opportunity to continue his baseball career at Meridian Community College.
"My year actually started out kind of shaky," said Morton. "I was trying to impress scouts instead of just playing my game and then (Berryhill) talked to me and I relaxed. I just started doing whatever I could to help my team win."
Fueled by Morton, Eupora indeed began racking up victories. The Eagles soared to a 17-5 overall record in 2011, capturing the Class 2A, Region 4 championship and advancing all the way to the third round of the playoffs before finally bowing out after running into a tough Hamilton club.
Though Morton's final season with Eupora fell short of a state crown, he says he'll always fondly remember his senior campaign.
"I'm happy with how it all ended up," said Morton. "It hurts to lose, but at the end of the day there can only be one team happy."
In 2011, Taylorsville was the squad that ended the year with smiles on their faces by becoming the state champions.
Though Morton never got the chance to experience victory in a state title series during his career, Berryhill believes his now-former player was able to leave behind a lasting legacy that could provide the spark needed to boost the remaining Eupora players to future championship runs.
Berryhill says Morton provided such moreso by his play than his words.
"Charles was a leader by example instead of speaking," said Berryhill. "Sometimes you've got vocal leaders and sometimes you've got guys that are quiet but lead by the way they play. Charles was that type of kid.
"If we needed the big hit, he got the big hit. If we needed a big out on defense, he'd take care of that if the ball was hit to him. He did the same when he was pitching. He found a way to make good out of every situation he was in for the most part. When you've got a kid that is successful more times than he is not, he's naturally going to be a leader."
Morton says his leadership style came naturally to him.
"I don't really talk as a leader that much," said Morton. "I like to joke around and stuff. I just lead with my play and lead by example. I try and do what needs to be done and hopefully (my teammates) will come in behind me and help do whatever they can to help our team win."
More often than not, Eupora found victory with Morton captaining the ship.
While Morton says he'll always remember racking up the wins with the Eagles, he says it's the little things he's going to miss the most about playing for Eupora.
"I think I'll always think about most of the bus rides," said Morton. "Just having fun with the younger guys and my teammates, it was great. It was a once in a lifetime thing."
Through all the memories made on the field and off, Morton says he wrapped up his high school days with absolutely no regrets.
"I just had fun, went out there and played my hardest and left everything on the field," said Morton.